It is difficult to review beer because everyone has a different preference and because beers are so different. It is rather like trying to compare pizza with fried chicken. Some drinkers, actually a lot of drinkers, like a certain watery, hoppy rice-based lager that is available everywhere. Most of the competition for those drinkers also make watery hoppy lagers. If that is the sort of beer that floats your boat, then nothing will change your mind and this entry isn’t really targeted to you. But if you are looking for some different beers then maybe the next few entries will encourage you to try some different beers.
Today’s entry reviews two Midwest-based dark beers. First, we have Schell’s. This is a beer with some history. The company traces its lineage back to August Schell and Jacob Berhardt, German immigrants who co-founded their brewery in New Ulm, Minnesota in 1860. Apparently the brewery survived the Sioux uprising in the 1860s in which much of New Ulm was burned to the ground because Mrs. Schell had a habit of giving free beer to the local Native Americans. Sounds like a good plan to me. The brewery is still in the hands of descendants of August Schell. Check out the Schell website. It is very educational.
As opposed to Schell’s, Omaha’s Lucky Bucket Brewing is just a young pup, having been founded in 2008. Beginning with their Pre-Prohibition style lager, which was first introduced in 2009, the Lucky Bucket line has added two beers, their new IPA, with “full hop flavor” and Certified Evil, the topic of this review. For both the IPA and Certified Evil, you are cautioned to read and heed the label. These are beers that are exactly what they say they are on the label. If you love hops then you have to try IPA. More about that beer later. Lucky Bucket’s roots are from the home brew and craft beer tradition that is reviving an interest in flavorful beers made with local ingredients.
On to the beer.
Schell’s Dark: This beer has mild hops, with medium bitterness. There is a good amount of malt, but not too much. The color is deep amber, kind of like brown honey. The beer is easy to drink and I did not detect any cloying taste as I worked through the bottle. This is a very nice beer and easy to drink. It is not a Belgian-style dark ale, but it is a solid dark and malty beer nonetheless. This is a very approachable dark ale. I want to try some of the other beers in Schell’s inventory.
Lucky Bucket Brewing Co.’s Certified Evil: The first mouthful of this beer opened my eyes. This is a very flavorful and strong, dark ale in the Belgian ale tradition. It is two or even three steps removed from the Schell’s Dark in strength alone. I happen to be a huge fan of Belgian dark ales and I have to say that this beer has more flavor than any Belgian brew I’ve had. Certified Evil is full of every flavor that you can associate with beer and some that you may not have. In addition to the hops, and a strong malt and a solid molasses taste. There is also a sugar taste that I can’t quite place. For its strength, the beer is a smooth drink, with the bitter hops being replaced by the malt and molasses as it goes down. If you want to try a special-brewed and oak-cask aged beer that is different, then give Certified Evil a try.
Here is the Lucky Bucket Brewery video about their Certified Evil beer.
Disclosure: The folks at Lucky Bucket were kind enough to send me free beer for this review.